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Friday, March 9, 2012

CAMEL SPIDERS -- DVD review by porfle

When you sit down to watch one of these recent monster flicks from Roger Corman's New Horizons pictures, the question isn't whether it's going to be good or bad, but whether it's going to be bad in a good or bad way.

With CAMEL SPIDERS (2012), I don't know what to tell you except that it's both really bad and sorta fun.  Looking like the result of the usual quick, dirty, and totally artless Corman film shoot (with Jim Wynorski at the helm under the alias "Jay Andrews"), it begins with a passable fire fight between U.S. forces and the Taliban with what appears to be the Vasquez Rocks area passing for Afghanistan.  Suddenly, a bunch of large, spiderlike creatures appear and wipe out the opposing team while Captain Sturges (Brian Krause) and his men look on in shock and awe. 

The injured Sturges gets shipped back to the States along with the body of a fallen friend.  Unbeknownst to him, however, some of the "camel spiders" have hitched a ride in the coffin and make it into the wilds of Arizona.  Breeding like, well, camel spiders, they begin to attack everyone in sight while Capt. Sturges, sexy female soldier Sgt. Underwood (Rocky DeMarco), and a group of civilians hole up in an old gypsum plant to fight them off. 

Our lust for blood is satisfied early on when some teenagers on a jaunt in the desert get wiped out, making way for yet another group of 20-somethings who find themselves trapped in an abandoned farmhouse.  The film cuts back to them from time to time although eventually it apparently forgets that storyline altogether and we never find out what happens to those who are left.  Other glitches and illogical elements include zero cell phone reception in not one but two key locations plus a hotwired truck that suddenly has a keyring conveniently dangling from the ignition.  (Not to mention the fact that if Afghanistan was actually swarming with these things, there wouldn't be any people left by now.)

Besides Sturges and Underwood, the main group includes a redneck sheriff (C. Thomas Howell, finally starting to look his age), cafe' owners Reba and Joe, a couple headed for divorce and their little girl, a sullen liberal-type who dislikes the military and is a pacifist because "the chicks dig it", a dimwitted waitress named Patty, and an evil businessman who wants Reba and Joe to die because they won't sell him their cafe' to make way for a new freeway. 

Once they're all ensconced in the gypsum plant for the night, the film slows down long enough to make some cursory attempts at characterization which consist mainly of cheesy acting and some pretty corny dialogue (mmm...cheesy corn), as in these choice exchanges between Sturges and Underwood:

"So, what's worse...the Taliban or these spiders?"
"I hate spiders.  They bite."
"So do I."

"Keep your eyes open, huh?"
"Do I have to?  Man, this is creepy."

The CGI spiders are only as convincing as they have to be, which is not very.  The film can't help but be somewhat suspenseful when the main attack comes and the pesky critters start crawling out of the woodwork, with several of the characters doing predicatably stupid things that practically scream "kill me."  These doomed souls flail around while the superimposed digital bugs swarm over them accompanied by some squirty CGI gore effects.  Attempting to escape in the aforementioned hot-wired truck (the one with the keys in the ignition), the others blast away with AK-47s as the film makes a limp effort to be a really, really poor man's ALIENS. 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  There are no extras. 

As with most of Corman's New Horizons pictures, CAMEL SPIDERS is just well-done enough to contain the bare minimum of entertainment value for undiscriminating creature-feature fans.  If you're in a generous mood you may find it minimally entertaining.  If not, chances are you're in for a pretty dismal time. 

Buy it at

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